How was Brazil able to win its independence ?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Brazil is one of the only American colonies to gain its independence peacefully. Brazil was a colony of Portugal since the 16th century.  Portugal was not an overbearing presence in Brazil and colonists enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy.  For the most part, Portugal viewed Brazil as a resource bank.  Portugal took resources from the land and made a handsome profit on lumber products, gold, and diamonds. Because of these profitable industries, many Portuguese entrepreneurs moved to Brazil to supervise mining and other operations.  In the early 1800’s, events in Europe led to unprecedented events in Brazil that would impact it’s future.

With Napoleon's invasion of Portugal in 1808, the regent, João V and the royal family moved the government to Brazil.  The event was a unique maneuver, making Brazil the capital of the Portuguese empire.  This modernized Brazil in rapid order and education and culture blossomed.  With the defeat of Napoleon it was safe to return to Portugal, but the regent decided he liked it in Brazil and stayed behind.  This angered the nobility who demanded he return to Europe, or be stripped of his crown.  João reluctantly returned to Portugal in 1821 and appointed his son Pedro as the regent of Brazil.  

It was at this time that the nobility of Portugal decided to try to re-exert its authority over Brazil, which in turn angered the nobility of the colony.  The Brazilian patricians had, for the past thirteen years, played a major role in the operations of the Portuguese Empire.  For this reason, political pressure mounted to declare independence.  In a remarkable development, Pedro declared Brazil's independence in September of 1822, and Portugal obliged with very little resistance.   

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